It’s never too late to dream.

beauty of their dreams‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ – C.S. Lewis

It’s good to dream. As your mind takes you to a place of endless possibilities and infinite destinies a dream can be anything you want it to be. It can be a pleasurable reverie that you enjoy in the moment and let fade.

But the thoughts which lead you to fulfill your aspirations and visualize your future should never be allowed slip away.

Because a life without dreams is a life without hope.

‘Hope is the dream of the waking man.’ – Aristotle

Childhood trauma stole many things from me; my sense of self-esteem, my ability to trust and my capability to expect anything good. For many years my hopes for the future were never an issue because I was too busy trying to numb out the past and the demands of each day were worrying enough.

If you too have been brought up to anticipate the worst, or if your life has been continuously tough, you will understand how hard it can be to be optimistic about your prospects or to follow your desires.

For many years I believed that dreaming was frivolous and pointless. In fact my mantra was, ‘why bother it’ll never happen’. I was convinced this was the best way to protect myself from further disappointment and rejection. Deep down I wanted to envisage success, happiness and love in my life, but I was overwhelmed by my belief that I didn’t deserve any of it.

‘Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is dark.’ – Rabindranth Tagore

One of the greatest revelations to me in my journey to recovery was discovering my self-worth. And if you don’t believe that you are worth it then it’s time to started to make that journey too.

For me it started with making the decision to embrace who I was on every level; physical, social, emotional and spiritual. It was a gradual enlightenment stemming from the love that I experienced when I chose to reclaim my faith.

Faith helped me to begin to love myself for who I was and for who I was not. Once I was able to love myself (and my imperfections), I could believe that in not only did my life have a purpose but that I had a right to pursue my passions. As my confidence increased so too did my ability to dream. For faith enabled me to believe in the unimaginable; to reach for the unattainable and to the dream the impossible.

‘Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.’ – Gloria Steinem

It’s not enough simply to have aspirations though. What has begun in the imagination has to make the transition into reality. Dreaming isn’t a passive past-time. It’s the active pursuit of your vision and the determined mind-set to see it through.

As someone who battled with depression and alcoholism for 20 years, I often dreamt of being happy and sober. But imagining such a life was futile until I made the commitment to change.

Achieving my dreams took courage, faith and determination. It wasn’t easy and of course there have been many challenges along the way, but the wonderful thing about setting your goals is that you can determine what they are and how you reach them. How long it takes is not important, as long as you keep moving forward.

‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ – Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Know too that while some aspirations stay the same, your hopes can change too. Yesterday my dream was to reach a day when I could live without a drink. Today I strive for that same goal and it’s also what I wish for tomorrow. God willing that never change.

In sixteen years of recovery, many of my other dreams have transformed as I too have transformed.  My ‘why bother, it’ll never happen’ thinking has been replaced with the expectation for good things to transpire. My ‘barely getting by’ attitude has been renewed by anticipating abundance. My ‘I’m not good enough to deserve this’ philosophy has been superseded by the conviction that I am perfectly imperfect which is good enough and always was.

it's never too late to dreamNot every vision has to be a huge life-changing event. Little steps are just as significant. Big or small, it’s never too late to dream.

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

Fearless and free.

soar“If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.” Life can be scary. Change can be terrifying. But fear can restrict and overwhelm to the point that your life isn’t your own.

If you’re captive of your past, living with an anxiety-filled present or dreading the future, then learning how to live fearlessly will set you free.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”  Mark Twain.

Anyone who has experienced an abusive relationship will know what it is like to be living in fear. Whether it’s physically, verbally or mental abuse, you learn to anticipate and react in a certain way. And when your worst fears are realised, you are made to believe it was your fault and you become uneasy of ‘the next time’.

Similarly, low self-esteem can make facing new situations, people or places a source of trepidation. Your mind fills with every negative scenario and statement imaginable. And this can spiral into a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure and rejection.

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” Eleanor Roosevelt

As a child, my abandoning mum and my abusing dad had ensured that I learnt to never truly trust, attach or love anyone. I grew into adulthood believing everyone had the potential to harm me in some way or another. Alcohol gave me the courage to not care if, or more often, when they did.

My addiction was a direct result of not just an extreme apprehension of others but of an unnatural mistrust of myself. Complete lack of self-worth meant that I would do anything to numb the feelings of inadequacy. Convinced that my values, instincts and intelligence were inferior to everyone else fed into my foreboding of defeat and ridicule.

Whether real or imagined, fear controlled my life and my life was out of control.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Confronting my addiction and starting on the path to recovery was quite simply the most terrifying period of my life. It meant redefining my concept of fear and changing my perception of myself and others. And that wasn’t an easy choice to make, but it was totally necessary if I was going to be free to live my life as the person I was meant to be.

I worked hard to develop the courage to accept, trust and love myself. But as I did I was able to find the strength to confront and challenge fear. I would remind myself “If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.”flower

It doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared. In fact I’m still a cautious person who finds it hard to take risks. And everyday situations like meeting new people still make me nervous. But I am no longer captive to fear and its negative consequences.

Today I don’t fight the fear. I welcome it in the form of excitement and anticipation. I rise above it and use it as motivation. I go through it and come out the other side stronger.

For me that is living a life fearless and free. What about you? Are you fearless and free?

Top image: The Courage to Soar thanks to 3 Wishes Creations  http://www.etsy.com/shop/3WishesCreations

Love you forever.

Is it possible to love someone forever?  Or is it more realistic to believe that nothing lasts forever?

The notion of ‘nothing lasts forever’ can be effective in dealing with disappointments and let-downs. It’s like a mental shrug of the shoulders that acknowledges a setback but allows you to move on unhindered.

In the past however I used it as a permanent mind-set. It was the only way I had of rationalising and managing my life.Of course all that happened was that I became trapped in a self-fulfilling prophesy. I desperately wanted and needed to love and be loved, but as long as I held onto the idea that everything was temporary, it was never going to happen. And believing that I was worthless compounded my perception that love would never exist in my life at all, let alone forever.

A counsellor once said to me, “It’s a miracle that you are married.” She was right. I’d experienced such dysfunctional love. The grief I had felt at losing my mum was based on a false love – I had no love for her, only love for the mother that could have been. And that goes for my father too. His love came at a price. Love was a ‘deal’ – Quid pro quo.

As an adult the problem was my inability to identify what love actually was and then to accept it when it came my way. Who doesn’t remember their first true love? The bitter-sweet romance of youth with a promise that it would last forever. Naturally he broke my heart in a way that only a first love can and left me resolving never to allow myself to feel that vulnerable again.

Whilst everyone else around me seemed to be connecting with their long-term sweetheart, I went through relationships that were at best superficial and at worst completely destructive to my body and mind. Alcoholism and depression became my constant companions. They fed my fear of attachment and ensured a loveless existence. And a life without love is no life at all.

Learning to love was by far greatest challenge in my healing. With the help of faith and hope I confronted my alcoholism, dealt with the traumas of the past and reclaimed my life with a passion. But finding the courage to love myself and others was challenging and painful. Opening up myself to the possibility of rejection was terrifying, as was the notion of commitment.

When I finally believed I was worthy of a relationship, I had to learn how to manage the love within it. I’d previously had the unrealistic expectation that ‘love you forever’ meant ‘I’ll never leave you’ or ‘I’ll never hurt you.’ And I’m sure for some people that’s actually the truth. But for me I could only receive ‘love you forever’ as something for the moment.

I’ve come a long way from only believing in ‘nothing is forever’, and I truly want to believe in ‘love you forever’.  When I made my marriage vows I meant them and want the marriage to last.  But if I’m honest, there are times when I doubt that it’s possible. I struggle with having the experience that reminds me how people can let me down but on the other hand having the wisdom that reassures me that I am strong enough to trust.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And that’s what I intend to do. I’m a work in progress and not a million miles away from doing the thing I think I cannot do.

But in the meantime I’ll take a deep breath and say “Just for today, I’ll love you forever.”

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Top image thanks to Freaky Peas      http://www.etsy.com/listing/89892270/blue-heart-original-multi-media-painting          Bottom image thanks to Joy Northrop           http://www.etsy.com/listing/108601989/forever-love-digital-download-whimsical

Believing is Receiving.

“You’re nothing better than a whore.” As a young child I didn’t know what that meant but I did know that every time my dad said it I felt worthless and unloved. As an adult I did my best to escape him. But even when I had the respite of being geographically away from him, I was unable to distance myself from him in my mind. The words with which he had insulted and abused me were a source of torment.

I grew up believing I was unwanted, useless and ugly. With hindsight I can see that as a child I had been placed on the path of self-fulfilling misery because I didn’t believe I deserved any better. In adulthood, one of the main causes of my depression was that I never felt ‘good enough’. That translated into: I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t clever enough. I wasn’t interesting enough. I wasn’t good enough to love. The list was endless.

To enable my emotional healing I had to learn how to deal with all the negative affirmations that I had carried around with me. It was a painstaking process of examining every damaging thought. Those I had previously accepted as a truth, I had to learn to reject as a lie.

“We are what we believe we are.” ~ Benjamin N. Cardozo

No longer allowing the words of others to define me was a breakthrough in my life. After a life-time of believing and receiving the worst, this was not going to come easily. It felt totally unnatural to think positive thoughts about myself or my life, but I was determined to make that transition from victim mentality to survivor mindset.

Occasionally my past does creep back into my thoughts, and sometimes I face criticisms and rejections. But now I no longer internalize them and wear them as a label. Because today I know I am loved, trusted and respected by the people who matter to me. And I love, trust and respect myself.

You can’t change what someone has said to you, but you can change how you respond to it. You can make the decision to stop receiving the bad and start receiving the good. You can stop believing you can’t and start believing you can.

Believing is receiving.

Top image thanks to Jane Hinchcliffe http://www.etsy.com/listing/69841057/believe-signed-limited-edition-print-on

And a massive thank you to the wonderful NZ CATE who awarded me The Compassionate Communicator award.The award is “to recognize and reward those who blog for the benefit of others as well as themselves.” I’m delighted to accept it from this lovely blogger http://infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com/